Freight train on 2nd Street.

Share Street with a Train

Field review by the editors.

St. Marys, West Virginia

For all who seek an intimate encounter with a freight train, few places are more convenient than downtown St. Mary's -- one of only a handful of U.S. communities where a railroad shares a city street, unshielded, with cars, bicycles, and pedestrians.

Tracks down the middle of 2nd Street.

St. Mary's, the county seat, was named when its founder saw a vision of Jesus's mom on the future town site (although apparently no vision of hellish locomotives). You'd think that the city must have awkwardly grown up around the railroad track, but it was the other way around; the train line plowed through the heart of downtown in 1883, and it's been there ever since.

Freight trains pass through several times a day on an irregular schedule; they move slowly, and can be several hundred cars long, severing one side of St. Mary's from the other for extended periods. The trains are the city's most popular tourist attraction, and train-in-the-street novices have plenty of warning lights and signals to keep them safe.

According to St. Mary's mayor, there's only ever been one train collision accident.

Share Street with a Train

Address:
413-401 2nd St., St. Marys, WV
Directions:
Downtown, along 2nd St., between Clay and Creel Sts.
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